Maldives to host 2013 World Tourism Day

The Maldives will host the 2013 World Tourism Day celebrations under the theme ‘Tourism and Water – Protecting our Common Future.’ The event is a function of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which chose the Maldives over contender Iran.

The decision was made during the 19th General Assembly in Gyeongju, South Korea, held from October 10 to 13. Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa and Deputy Director General Moosa Zameer Hassan were among the 600 participants from member countries.

Tourism Ministry Deputy Director General, Moosa Zameer Hassan, said Iran conceded its bid for the event when the Maldives joined the running.

Tourism accounts for nearly 70 percent of the Maldives’ GDP indirectly, and 30 percent directly. Recent shifts in the global economy have brought a new wave of tourists from Asia, which has made the Maldives Conde Nast’s second-most popular tourist destination at a time of global recession.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the VVIP Koimala Executive Lounge at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), Tourism Minister Dr Zulfa said tourism should be at the center of Maldives socioeconomic development. “Because tourism, of course, is our number one industry, and everything we do should center around making the product even more perfect than it is today.”

Hassan said the event was highly relevant to the Maldives.

“Tourism and environment are closely related to the future of the Maldives,” he observed. Although the event is a still two years away, Hassan said the Maldives hoped to take the opportunity to “provide our viewpoint to the U. N. on these issues, and portray our country and its message for this theme to the world.”

Although Hassan could not provide specifics, he was confident that the Maldives’ message in 2013 “will be about supporting tourism and environment in order to protect the Maldives, improve the quality of life for local Maldivians, and benefit foreign visitors and investors.”

Various public and private groups have lately taken steps to merge tourism and environmentalism.

Maldives Game Fishing Association (MGFA) is moving forward with a tag-and-release game fishing competition, to be held November 9-12 in and around North and South Male’ and Vaavu atolls. MGFA Committee Member Tiffany Bond previously said the event would introduce a new sport for tourists and locals while promoting conservation-friendly methods. “In many ways, it’s another feather in the tourism hat,” she said.

World Tourism Day is set for September 27 of each year. Next year’s celebration will be hosted in Spain under the theme ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy–Powering Sustainable Development.’

Hassan concluded with a reflection on the importance of hosting World Tourism Day in the same year as the next presidential election.

“Twenty-thirteen is going to be a big year for the Maldives. By hosting an international event like this, we will be in a positive position for moving forward,” he said.